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Commissioners triumph in judge race
June 04, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Stephanie Garratt

Susan Greenberg

The county’s newest judges Stephanie Garratt and Susan Greenberg don’t have to go too far to fill the positions — they’re essentially already doing it.

The two women are currently court commissioners who preside over lower-level and misdemeanor cases in San Mateo County Superior Court. On Tuesday night, both were also elected judge in their respective races, Garratt over attorney and Daly City Councilman Ray Buenaventura and Greenberg over attorney Jeff Hayden.

“It’s great. Now I feel like I can breathe,” Garratt said.

In California, judges serve six-year terms and are elected in nonpartisan races. Vacancies between elections are filled by gubernatorial appointments.

Garratt received 62.9 percent, or 36,393 votes, while Buenaventura received 37.1 percent or 21,430 votes. The Elections Office reported no votes for write-in candidate Christopher Shenfield, 51. The trio were vying for the seat that will be left empty by the retirement of Judge Craig Parsons.

Greenberg received 71.8 percent, or 41,385 votes, while Hayden received 28.2 percent or 16,287 votes, in the race to fill the seat vacated earlier this year by the federal appointment of Judge Beth Labson Freeman to the U.S. District Court in San Jose.

Greenberg, 54, has a law degree from Hastings College of the University of California and is in her 14th year as a commissioner. Hayden, 55, is a native San Mateo County attorney in private practice that contracts with the county’s private defender program to represent clients who cannot afford to hire their own attorney.

Hayden called the campaign an amazing and positive experience and while he and Greenberg had some differences of opinion they also had some surprising similarities. Hayden said he respects the voters’ decisions and “at the end the people of San Mateo will be well served.”

Hayden said it is too early to consider another run but isn’t ruling anything out.

Garratt, 46, spent nine years on the bench as a commissioner before court cuts eliminated three of the seven positions including the one she held. She rejoined the District Attorney’s Office handling consumer fraud and environmental protection cases but was reappointed as a commissioner and returned to the bench at the end of April.

Garratt said she felt like David and Goliath in her race but had faith that county voters were smart and could make up their minds rather than believe the mailers of her opponent. With plans to wake up Wednesday and go to work as a commissioner, Garratt said she doesn’t think being a judge will feel that different.

“For me, it was never about having the title. It was about being able to do more extensive work,” she said.

Buenaventura, 49, is in private practice, contracts with the county’s private defender program for indigent defendants and is a Daly City councilman.

Buenaventura could not be reached for comment.

The remaining judges up for re-election — Joseph Bergeron, Richard DuBois, Don Franchi, Jonathan Karesh, Steven Dylina and Elizabeth Hill — ran unopposed.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102



Tags: garratt, hayden, greenberg, votes, judge, buenaventura,

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